An important motion will be considered by Vancouver City Council on Wednesday, to initiate the process to update zoning policies in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood. Your voice is needed; jump to the end of this post to see how to contact Council to express your support.
Shaughnessy is a historic area of Vancouver, but fewer people have been enjoying that heritage as the population has consistently dropped over the past half century, and many heritage houses have been replaced with new mansions anyway. In fact, despite starting with the lowest population density of any neighbourhood, it shrank more than any other neighbourhood in the last census count.
Transit-Oriented Development and Proximity to Jobs:
The provincial government just announced they are mandating zoning for apartments near SkyTrain stations. This is sensible, the SkyTrain network is a big public investment and more people living near stations will allow many of them to use cars less, or not own a car at all.Read more
Multiplexes? 🤷 Meh
On September 14, 2023, Vancouver will hold a public hearing for the proposed multiplex policy. If approved, plexes between 3 to 6 units, depending on the size of the lot, will be allowed in theory across the city’s RS (“single family”) zones.
AHV has been advocating for multiplexes (and more) for years. We supported the City’s move to allow duplexes in 2018, partly because allowing multiplexes appeared to be the obvious next step – one that might come quickly. But we also knew then what is even more obvious now: Vancouver needs to legalize apartments everywhere. We cannot afford policy baby steps when the housing crisis is growing by leaps and bounds.
The city recently rejected 8 badly needed daycare spots right by Douglas Park, and we need your help to fight back so this doesn't happen again.
Are you looking for daycare? If you are, you know how hard it is to find in Vancouver.
Vancouver is a "childcare desert" -- one of the worst in Canada! There's an estimated shortage of at least 15,000 daycare spots.
This puts the squeeze on families who are trying to build a life in Vancouver. And a lack of childcare disproportionately harms women and makes it difficult for them to maintain their careers.
Combined with housing unaffordability, no wonder so many neighbourhoods in Vancouver are seeing big decreases in the amount of kids living in them! Families are being driven out of the city.
You'd think the city would be doing everything it could to encourage more daycare. Instead, Byzantine city by-laws make it virtually impossible to open new daycare spots.
Even worse, the city prioritizes NIMBY complaints over the needs of families.
Read on below to learn about how NIMBYs fought to kill daycare spots at Douglas Park, and why this example is just a symptom of a larger problem. There's a tl;dr at the end you can jump to.
Or, jump to our SAMPLE EMAIL YOU CAN USE TO HELP FIGHT BACK!
(And don't forget to sign up to our email list to keep up to date on opportunities to advocate for a better Vancouver!)
Your support is needed to bring the MST Nations plan for ʔəy̓alməxʷ/Iy̓álmexw (Ee-’YUL-mough), AKA the Jericho Lands, to fruition. Fill out the City's engagement survey here by July 15. We recommend:
- "really like it" for all answers (even if you want to see more, as lesser support will be interpreted as wanting less).
- Question 9: Mention that the single-family area on the South side of 8th Ave should be rezoned for apartments; buildings on the Jericho site should not have to "transition" to detached houses so close to a SkyTrain station. More housing and amenities should be allowed at Jericho than what is proposed.
- Question 13: Something like "This plan is an inspired vision that addresses the urgent need to build more housing in complete, active, vibrant neighbourhoods. Please expedite this and the SkyTrain extension so that it can be built ASAP." "I want to live here"
- Say whatever else you think, but don't forget to mention what you like! It will be a very green, open site that is permeable to pedestrians and active transit. Underground parking will likely be accessed at the perimeter, limiting traffic and providing a much better pedestrian experience.
See further resources at the end of this post.
What are the Jericho Lands? What is the Plan?
ʔəy҆alməxʷ/Iy҆álmexw/Jericho Lands has always been a place of arrival and kinship. Before colonization, we welcomed people here for trade, bartering, and gathering. Welcome figures stood at places of arrival, while house posts at the entrances of homes told visitors which families lived here.
Even though our ancestors were forced to leave, ʔəy᾽ alməxʷ/Iy᾽ álmexw/Jericho Lands will be a place that welcomes all. We are resilient. The neighbourhood will let people know that this is our land, and we are here to share it with others. [page 43 of info boards PDF]
The Jericho Lands are 90 acres of lightly-developed land in the West Point Grey neighbourhood, between Downtown and UBC, with easy access to the growing jobs centre on Broadway. The site concept (PDF) is to create a vibrant new SkyTrain-oriented community with 13,000 homes, lots of open space, and good connectivity for pedestrians and active transport users, complete with park space, public school, supermarket, retail, jobs space, and even a hotel. It will be welcoming to all and be a low-carbon community and Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh "symbols, patterns, artwork, and language would be
embedded throughout all aspects of the neighbourhood."
Is This Plan High Density?Read more
Too Little Middle, Much Too Late
It was almost 5 years ago now that a then Vision-majority City Council, already frustrated at the lack of progress on "missing middle" housing policies, formally asked planners to bring forward proposals to allow more housing choices, from tri-plexes to small apartment buildings, in Vancouver's vast swathes of low-density RS (single-family detached house) zones. Planners have now finally presented a proposal for discussion, and, after such a long wait, it is an extraordinary disappointment.
The proposal is to allow up to four homes on a standard 33'-wide lot, and up to 6-plexes on 50'-wide or larger lots. Low-rise apartments and townhouses would still be banned outright on most of the city's residential land, as they are today. The homes would be sold off individually under strata title (i.e. like condos). This has the potential to be much more viable than purpose-built rental policies, as rental buildings have much lower value than condo buildings, and plexes generally lack the economies of scale of larger rental buildings.
The policy may allow a homeowner to pay a "density bonus" fee in lieu of providing a below-market home on-site. These fees can be used to build equivalent housing, better targeted to those in need of non-market housing. A requirement for an on-site below-market unit is appealing because it could help create mixed-income neighbourhoods, but it would be much less flexible as both the size of the unit and the subsidy would have to be targeted to what the buyers of the market-rate units are willing & able to subsidize. The greatest advantage of charging fees instead is that they can be adjusted annually to ensure the program stays viable, thus ensuring that both market and below-market homes are actually getting built.
The proposal would also make it optional to include more than one parking spot, basically letting the market decide, or may even set a maximum on parking spaces.
The BadRead more
See our open letter to the newly-appointed Honourable Ravi Kahlon, MLA, Minister of Housing:
There’s an exciting opportunity for you to support non-profit, social, and co-op housing in the City of Vancouver. Rezoning applications are extremely expensive for non-profit housing operators – about $500,000 to $1 million! That’s public money that would be better spent on housing!
On December 6, a motion is going to council that would reduce those costs by letting non-profit housing in some existing apartment areas go through a streamlined process. There would still be opportunities for community feedback and participation, but it would be a quicker and cheaper staff-led, as opposed to political, process.
During the recent election, Mayor Sim and his ABC party pledged to support removing rezonings for social housing up to 12 storeys in multi-family areas and 6 in other residential areas, when asked by Women Transforming Cities. This motion is a key part of fulfilling that promise, but your support is needed to make sure it passes!
The motion is called “B2. Reducing Barriers and Deepening Affordability for Non-Profit, Co-op and Social Housing in Every Neighbourhood”. We’ll provide a sample letter you can use at the end of this email, but personalized letters are more effective! You can use this link to email Mayor and Council, or use this feedback form. Better yet, you can register to speak in support! The motion goes to council this Tuesday, December 6, so please write in before then! Speakers will probably be heard on December 7.
This is your first big opportunity to let the new Mayor and Council know how important it is that they act on the housing crisis. Let’s speak up in support of more affordable housing!
Sample E-mail (customize it with your own stories / suggestions / etc., if desired)Read more
This week, Abundant Housing Vancouver joined with other pro-housing organizations around the province to encourage Premier David Eby to take strong action on housing, especially regarding the points in his housing platform from the NDP leadership race.
You can find our open letter in PDF format here.
Alternatively, the full text is below.
This week, the new, ABC-majority City Council was officially sworn in. One of ABC’s stated priorities for this Council session is to address the housing crisis by streamlining permitting and tripling the number of housing starts. How might they go about meeting this ambitious target? Here are the most promising planks we pulled from ABC’s election platform.
- Review "Missing Middle" Programs
- “Finish a Vancouver Plan OCP (Official Community Plan) in 4 years. Design 15-minute neighbourhoods where services and amenities can be accessed by walking, reducing reliance on motorized vehicles and supporting aging in place.”
- “Support increased density along the Hastings Corridor to provide new housing options and economic opportunities.”
- Reconciliation: “a stronger and more meaningful partnership, sharing in the wealth of the land and sea, and acknowledges that both the history and future of Indigenous people needs to be self-determined.”
- Double Co-op Housing in 4 years
- Approve towers in 1 year, apartment buildings in 3 months and townhouses in 3 weeks. Make CAC charges predictable and “re-focus development fees to support the creation of a greater supply of affordable rental housing stock.”
1. Review “Missing Middle” Programs
“The missing middle” can generally include anything from duplexes to small apartment buildings. Over the last half decade, Vancouver’s missing middle programs have been revised often with very little actual implementation. Duplexes, with secondary or “lock-off” suites, are allowed city-wide but cannot be larger than a single-family house, making it difficult for two would-be duplex buyers to outbid a single, deep-pocketed single-family home buyer.
In the middle of the missing middle, the outgoing Council passed two motions to look into allowing multiplexes, but specific policies are yet to come back from city planners. That hasn’t stopped some local small builders from dreaming though.
Next in our infinite series of infill housing explorations...— Bryn Davidson @Lanefab (@Lanefab) October 5, 2022
A 7 plex on a 33' lot (1.4 FSR) with only 48% site coverage (i.e. similar to a house plus garage).
Height and width tapered where adjacent to neighbouring rear yards. pic.twitter.com/jEeNGjihFZ
At the upper end of “the middle”, developers & homeowners can technically apply for a rezoning to build 4-storey rental apartment buildings, but only up to 1 block from certain arterial streets. The terms of the City’s Secured Rental Policy are generally not economically viable, to the point that, up to now, only one application in the entire city is public for off-arterial apartments under RR-2A zoning (there is another application for mixed commercial space & apartments under RR-3A zoning, but RR-3A rezonings are only allowed on the few lots with pre-existing commercial uses).
To make the “missing middle” a big piece of tripling housing starts, Council needs to focus on getting the most homes per redeveloped lot:Read more
MAJOR UPDATE: The City has released a memo that includes an explanation of the proposed tenant protections. See pages 3 to 8 here. Notably, they say that returning tenants will be able to lock in their rent at 20% below the citywide average years before moving in, and it will only increase by the same amount allowed by the Province for occupied apartments (currently restricted to the inflation rate). This is the example they describe for a 1 bedroom in Appendix A (page 8):
If a 2% rent increase per year is assumed and it takes 4 years for the new building to be constructed then the below-
market rent in the new unit would be $1,290/month and the tenant’s original rent would have been $1,695/month if no
redevelopment had occurred
Disclaimer: The following is intended to clarify, in the most abbreviated form practical, the tenant protection policies proposed in the Broadway Plan and potential amendments. The answers are taken from the publicly available sources referenced. We have reached out to planning staff for verification of the answers here (and more) but have not yet received confirmation of accuracy from the City.
What protections for tenants currently exist in the City of Vancouver?
In addition to the Residential Tenancy Act, tenants in Vancouver are protected by the Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy (TRPP). The TRPP includes measures such as right of first refusal, communication requirements, moving allowance, and assistance finding new accommodation. See the following questions for more details.
What additional measures does the draft Broadway Plan propose to protect renters?
In addition to the measures in the TRPP, tenants in rental buildings within the Broadway Plan area will have a few options if their building is redeveloped. These options include:
- The right to return to the new building with rent at a 20% discount to CMHC city-wide average rents.
One of either:
- Compensation equal to between 4 months of rent (1-5 year tenancies) and 24 months of rent (>40 year tenancies), OR
- A top-up subsidy to keep their existing rent at a new apartment while they are waiting to move into the new building.
The major improvement in the Broadway Plan is that tenants will be able to move back into a new building at a 20% discount to average rents for market rental buildings city-wide (per CMHC), whereas the TRPP only offers a 20% discount to starting rents in the new building. So, for example, if market rent in a 1 bedroom apartment today were $2200, the discounted rent for returning tenants would be $1760 under the TRPP, but would be only about $1216 under the Broadway Plan policy.
The proposed protections are described in more detail on page 7 of the Draft Housing Policies.
Press Read More for the rest of the FAQ.Read more